Department of Educational Policy Studies

Social Justice and International Studies in Education


Social Justice and International Studies in Education (SJI) is a specialization that focuses on the theoretical, philosophical, and ideological underpinnings of education as well as the social and cultural contexts in which education takes place. Formerly known as “educational foundations,” the SJI specialization draws heavily on philosophy, history, sociology, and other social sciences in its approach to the study of education within varying local, national and international settings. Accordingly, ethics, epistemology, historiography, political economy, sociology, social and political theory, comparative education, and cultural studies provide the conceptual lenses through which education is systematically examined. SJI courses thus explore linkages between education and economic, political and cultural systems, and expose students to a range of political, moral-ethical, and epistemological frameworks for thinking about social and economic inequality, gender and race relations, multiculturalism, sexual orientation, gender identity, citizenship, ecology, development, globalization and coloniality.

To be admissible applicants must possess advanced skills in independent research, essay writing, logical argumentation, and narrative analysis. Beyond this, preference will be given to applicants who have (1) a strong background in the social foundations of education and/or one or more of the following humanities and social sciences: philosophy, history, sociology, anthropology, political science, and cultural and communication studies; and (2) substantial work experience in the educational sector (e.g., public or private schooling, adult education, NGOs, social movements, corporate or government communications).

Program structure

Each student's program includes study in core areas, research methods, electives, and a thesis or capping exercise. Department Core Courses: Two courses (★6) are common to all master's specializations:

  • EDPS 580 - Contemporary Issues in Education: Perspective & Practice
  • EDPS 581 - Introduction to Evaluating Educational Research

Specialization Core Courses: Two courses form the core of the specialization:

  • EDPS 590 - Foundations of Education: Perspectives on Canadian Issues
  • EDPS 591 - Foundations of Education: Perspectives on International Issues

Specialization electives (Course-based programs require 3 (★9); Thesis-based programs require 2 (★6)):

  • EDPS 501 - Courses proposed and taught by SJI faculty (only applicable to 501s offered from Fall 2017 onwards)
  • EDPS 515 - Sexual and Gender Minorities in Education and Culture
  • EDPS 520 - Adult Education, Popular Movements and NGOs in the Global South
  • EDPS 522 - Citizenship Education
  • EDPS 523 - Education and Development Theory
  • EDPS 525 - Globalization, Global Education and Change
  • EDPS 526 - Race, Racialization and Education
  • EDPS 527 - Youth, Culture and Education
  • EDPS 528 - Global Transformations, Indigenous Knowledge and the Crisis of Sustainability
  • EDPS 530 - History of Education
  • EDPS 544 - Critical and Feminist Pedagogical Research
  • EDPS 562 - Social Theory and Education
  • EDPS 563 - Education from a Sociological Perspective
  • EDPS 564 - Education and Social Change

Options/Electives:(Course-based program = 4 required; Thesis-based program = 2 required) Option/Elective courses chosen to complete this requirement can be graduate courses from other departments/faculties at the U of A and off-campus graduate level accredited courses. The SJI specialization elective courses listed above can also be completed to fulfill this requirement.

Normally, all courses taken as part of the master's program must be at the graduate level (courses numbered 500 and above). In consultation with the program advisor, students are encouraged to take courses across the department or faculty.